MHS District 280: Area counties project sizeable increase in property values


MENDOTA – The preliminary numbers for this year’s EAV are up by over 5 percent across LaSalle, Bureau and Lee counties. This welcome news was delivered by Superintendent Jeff Prusator at the Mendota High School District 280 Board of Education meeting on Oct. 18.

Prusator said for quite some time, the EAV has been flat or down, so this is much better news than he has been able to report in quite awhile. “That will put us up about $220,000, so we are very pleased with 5 percent,” he said. “I’ll have the preliminary levy at next month’s meeting and since it’s somewhat over 5 percent, we’ll have to schedule a Truth in Taxation hearing and vote on final approval in December.”

PRINCIPAL’S REPORT

Parent Teacher Conferences

Parent teacher conferences are scheduled for Oct. 26 and 27 from 4 to 7 p.m. Translation services will be provided. All parents are asked to park in the front parking lot and pick up their student’s progress reports in the main entrance foyer. Teachers will be seated in their classrooms or a designated classroom. “We hope to have a great turnout,” Aughenbaugh said.

In addition, representatives from ISAC and IVCC will provide Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion in the media center in both English and Spanish. Aughenbaugh said the high school appreciates ISAC and IVCC coming to assist MHS students with the application. The state of Illinois requires all seniors to complete the FAFSA or submit a guardian-signed state waiver form in order to graduate.

Bilingual Parent Advisory Committee Meeting

BPAC will have a family event on Friday, Oct. 29 in the cafeteria with a Day of the Dead celebration and Mendota dancers. Then on Nov. 4, there will be a two-night workshop presented by Ferney Ramirez Hernandez and each attendee will receive a book. Aughenbaugh said they also extended an invitation to parents of elementary students to attend this program.

SAT Suite and Test Prep Plans

MHS will again use the SAT Suite of Assessments this school year. On Nov. 12, the high school will test 8th grade students from Northbrook and Holy Cross on the PSAT 8. This test will be the first baseline measure of the SAT suite. “We hope to have a good turnout of students from 289 and Holy Cross,” Aughenbaugh said.

Freshmen will take the PSAT 9 and sophomores the PSAT 10 on April 20. Due to the spring break conflict, SAT 11 will be administered to juniors on March 23, a month early.

Khan Academy and College Board (owner of SAT) have partnered to provide online SAT test preparation programs and resources entirely free of charge. Students have access to thousands of practice problems, personalized tutorials on test content, official SAT practice questions and full-length tests, comprehensive reporting for students, and access anytime, anywhere. Aughenbaugh thanked Mrs. Tarr and Mr. Artman for their extra work on test prep and the U.S. History teachers for their assistance.

Homeroom Rotations

MHS scheduled monthly homerooms this year during Period 8 to offer additional workshops and curriculum opportunities to students. Aughenbaugh said the Major Clarity screener was offered to students, which assists them in college and career readiness modules.

All students have been asked to stay and complete the SSIS SEL Brief and Mental Health Scales. This measure of students’ social and emotional functioning is aligned with state Social Emotional learning standards and provides results used to guide instruction for students and support for students experiencing emotional concerns. This brief rating scale assists in measuring a student’s current functioning levels and predict a need for additional supports. “We are using this process as part of our ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) federal grant funds plan to identify students who need additional mental health supports and we are really pleased to be able to give this,” Aughenbaugh said.

In November and December, Mr. Hanson will schedule Trojan Prep School workshops during the homeroom periods.

Professional Development Updates

School Resource Officer Hochstatter provided an Active Shooter Training and Crisis Manual training to staff on Oct. 8 and there was also a morning workshop provided by the Marzano Institute, which Aughenbaugh said was well received.

On Oct. 20 a half-day teacher institute will include articulation conducted with Mendota Elementary and Holy Cross middle school teachers in the areas of math, science, English, social studies, and Bilingual/ELL and the counselors will also articulate. Special Education teachers will have a CPI (restraint) refresher course and all other staff will work with the online CPR training modules.

Alisa Stewart and Joe Hughes have attended intensive professional development through Northwestern University. During the summer session, they attended with science teachers from across the country on teaching and learning science. The week of Oct. 4, researchers from Northwestern University visited MHS and their classrooms to gather video on these teachers teaching. Stewart and Hughes will return to Northwestern next summer for additional professional development. Aughenbaugh congratulated them for taking time and having the courage to really investigate and hone their teaching and learning skills.

Commendations

Aughenbaugh congratulated the boys’ soccer team for their 19-0 season. They went on to win the Regional Championship on Oct. 15.

Announcements

Oct. 23-24 - Fall play, “Little Women” Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

Nov. 3 - MHS Booster Club meets in the media center at 6:30 p.m. Everyone is welcome.

Nov. 3 - Choir concert 7 p.m.

SUPERINTENDENT’S REPORT

Plans are in place to completely overhaul MHS’s science classrooms using funds from the ESSER federal grant of over $1 million. Prusator said the high school was designed having the lab and class space combined, but that has not made for effective education. The redo will place the lecture room in one area and the lab in another, creating less distraction. The cost is estimated at $250,000 for each of the four rooms. “It fits the criteria of the grant, and we think it’s a good use of the money,” he noted. “It will benefit us for decades down the road, and not be just a short-term expenditure.”

  • The board approved application of a $50,000 matching grant from the state, which will be used to resurface the front parking lot next summer.
  • Prusator expressed his appreciation to an anonymous donor who paid for tickets for everyone who signed up for the fan bus.
  • Rapid COVID testing is now being done once a week rather than twice. Prusator said MHS has given almost 4,000 tests this school year and had only four positives, all of which were asymptomatic. He said it was really helpful to have these tests and they especially benefited the sports teams because the positive students could be quarantined immediately.

Prusator noted that MHS has had six total student COVID cases this year (two were not in the testing pool) and hopes that if the number of cases continues going down in the state, the mitigations will be removed.

The next regular board of education meeting will be held at the high school on Monday, Nov. 15 at 6 p.m.

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